The Beginning of the End for the Yellow Pages?

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The "yellow pages" were once a daily point of reference for Americans -- a business directory that answered any query someone might have about their local community's hot spots. The fat stack of thin pages often rested in every home and helped people find what they needed, whether for changing the oil in their cars or simply grabbing ice cream nearby. Journalists once used these books to learn a community. But the Internet changed our needs. Today people go to Yelp or Google Maps or any number of consumer-review sites to find basic information about the businesses around them.

In light of these social changes as well as environmental concerns, San Francisco is poised to restrict the distribution of yellow pages to only those households that request them, the L.A. Times reports, the first city ever to do so. In San Francisco, there are 1.6 million of the books distributed, which, the article notes, would stack up to more than eight times the height of Mount Everest. Is this the beginning of the end of the ubiquitous directory?

 San Francisco's Board of Supervisors concluded Tuesday that although some people may still prefer to let their "fingers do the walking," two directories for every man, woman and child in this high-tech city is excessive.

The 10-1 vote puts San Francisco in line to be the first government in the nation to restrict delivery of the hefty books to only those residences and businesses that want them. The legislation, which faces a customary second reading next week but is expected to pass handily, was embraced by environmentalists, some small business groups and apartment managers who struggle with the detritus left in their building lobbies.

 Read the full story at the Los Angeles Times.

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John Hendel is a writer based in Washington, DC, and a former producer at The Atlantic.

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